Biodiversity Discussion Group

Welcome to the Biodiversity Discussion Group (BDG) at the Biodiversity Research Centre of the University of British Columbia!

We're on holiday through January 7th. Happy holidays to all! And special thanks from Lizzie for being such a fantastic group. See you on the other side, or in Boston.

Why & who: We meet to discuss recent research papers and topics in biodiversity from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Any interested undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, and faculty are welcome to suggest papers and join the discussion. See below for links to past terms' topics.

When & where: We're meeting Tuesdays at 11am in Beaty 224 (Ralf Yorque), unless otherwise noted

Notes from Fall 2013

Ask questions, whether you fret they are silly or not, what you think is a 'dumb question' is probably a fundamental question that many are wondering about or should be. So speak up.

And on that 'speak up' note: Around minute 40 we'll try to switch things up this term and ask everyone who has talked to try not to talk for 10 minutes. We'll see how it goes, but if it takes you a while to psyche yourself up to speak then work on that before minute 40 and if you talk a lot, practice your lip-biting skills.

Bring an expert: Special guests, faculty we don't see enough of, experts in a topic are especially welcome. If you're running a discussion and think someone should be there, or just if you know someone who should be at a particular discussion, bring them! Rewards for this behaviour can be discussed with Lizzie.

Information on the BDG mailing list is below.

Twitter feed: (thanks to Andrew) Jump to tweets about BDG (#ubcbdg).

Fall 2013 Schedule



Readings, tasks etc.


Snack provider

10 September

Organizational, and interdisciplinary research

(1) Think of what date/time works for you for BDG this term and topics.

(2) If you want, read: Fostering advances in interdisciplinary science (html, pdf, special issue link)



17 September

How can we make BDG discussions awesome? See online discussion on Storify here.

(1) Over the next few days, consider what makes a good discussion for you. Think about your favourite discussion moments in the past -- what made them great?

(2) Come with questions, thoughts and having read the guidelines here (pdf).

(3) Read Supp et al. (pdf) and consider these questions (pdf) while reading.

Mary & Andrew


24 September


(1) Read Harrison et al. 2012 (pdf) and Matter & Roland 2010 (pdf)

(2) Think about these questions here.

Judy, Matt & Maria


1 October

Microbiome ecology

(1) Read Lozupone et al. 2012 (pdf) and think about how does this compare to macrobial (plant and animal) communities?

(2) Read Smith et al. 2013 (pdf) and consider community coexistence. Do you think the high levels of diversity in the gut influence resilience? (If you get bogged down in the article you can check out this link.)

A little more info here.

Laura Sarah

8 October

Mechanisms of species coexistence (Chessonian), with special guest

(1) Time for a classic! Read Chesson 2000 (pdf).

(2) Take a look at the questions and discussion outline here.

Additional readings just for fun here.

Matt Barbour Andrew

15 October

Two paradigms for analyzing population density Read Krebs 2002 (pdf) and have a look atthe Caughley paper (pdf) as it is an important paper but a bit long. Charley Natalie

22 October

Conservation in the Anthropocene

(1) Read 'Conserving large carnivores: dollars and fence' by Packer et al. here and read 'Conservation in the Anthropocene' by Kareiva et al. here.

(2) Think about these questions here.

Angie Andrew

29 October

Major theories in ecology

(1) Read Scheiner 2013 (pdf)

(2) Come extra alert and prepared to be involved actively

Andrew McDonald & Joey Adrienne

5 November

Science & advocacy Read Lackey 2007 (pdf) and Scott et al. 2007 (pdf) Sean & Catherine Charlotte

12 November

Ecosystems and human health

(1) Read Levy et al. (pdf)

(2) Read one of these two articles: Vorosmarty et al. 2010 (pdf) or Golden et al. 2011 (pdf)

Joey & Megan


19 November How to determine/measure spp. diversity

(1) Read Chiarucci et al. 2011 (pdf)

(2) Think about these questions here

Lilly Julia
26 November Resilience & extreme events

Read Thompson et al. 2013 (pdf)

Diane Vaibhav
3 December Philosophy of science & how to do/debate science

(1) Read: abstract of Craine 2005 (pdf, whole paper optional) and full paper of Craine 2007 (pdf)

(2) Read one (or both if you want) of the following: Grime 2007 (pdf); Tilman 2007 (pdf)

(3) How do these papers move science forward or not? What aspects did you appreciate or dislike?

(4) Identify a scientific debate within ecology and think a little on what came out of it? How did science change? How did the players in the debate aid or delay any change?

Lizzie Catherine

Coming soon!

Topics suggested in September 2013 or before that didn't quite make the cut, click here



Other topics
2013-2014 academic year: biogeography of science and publication, women in science, overuse of p-values (point-counterpoint opportunity), researchers and public education, rewilding, parasites, replication, macroecology, physiological ecology, paleoecology, historical ecology, interacting with the media, phenology, what is ecology, niche modeling, functional redundancy, top wacko ideas in conservation

2012-2013 academic year: Marine and terrestrial ecology: unifying concepts, revealing differences, Setting the agenda for speciation research,
Ecosystomics: ecology by sequencer, Parasites and fungi and stuff, Niche modeling insanity, Paleo-climate change,
Resurrection ecology, Restoration ecology, What's wrong with eco-phylogenetics, Historical ecology, Scaling in time and space
Evolution and climate change, Evolutionary ecology and Back to the future: The return of the 1970s to ecology.

Miscellaneous papers
That have come up during discussions:

Previous terms
Fall 2012, Spring 2013

Mailing List
Email may be sent to the list at
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Please e-mail Jenn Sunday if you have questions.

Biodiversity Research Centre
#112-2212 Main Mall
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada